MANVERS TWP – A group that was one of the appellants opposing a controversial wind turbine project near Pontypool has filed a Ministerial Appeal after the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) ruled against them in February.
In an email on Wednesday (March 18) Manvers Wind Concerns said the cost of the first option, a judicial review, was so high that while the legal team “did in fact find potential grounds” for such an appeal, “the financial realities are daunting.”
The cost of a judicial review would be about $75,000, but if the appellants lost, an award against them for costs incurred by wpd Canada could easily push that figure to $150,000, the group says.
Manvers Wind Concerns, along with Cransley Home Farms Ltd and the Buddhist Cham Shan Temple launched an appeal in December of 2013 after the province approved wpd Canada’s Sumac Ridge wind energy project. Much of 2014 was taken up with legal wrangling between the appellants and lawyers for wpd Canada and the Ministry of Environment.
The opponents to the project are worried the mega-turbines will cause serious harm to the environment, water sources and wildlife in the area, especially since two of the turbines are planned for the Oak Ridges Moraine.
In February, the Tribunal ruled in favour of wpd Canada.
The email notes there are two remedies the appellants could pursue.
“The first was to have the decision fully reviewed for errors in law, and thereafter decide on whether or not to file for a judicial review. Our legal team did in fact find potential grounds for such an appeal but the financial realities are daunting,” the email states.
It continues, “Without a sure ‘home run,’ there was no appetite for this and as such we will not be appealing in this manner. Yes…the Green Energy Act is rigged against the people it is allegedly designed to serve.”
The second route is through a a Ministerial Appeal to the government “based on factual errors by the Tribunal that were made in issuing their decision. We have in fact filed a compelling appeal in this regard thanks once again to our Regulatory volunteer team. We await the outcome.”
Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble said Thursday (March 19) that appealing directly to the Minister does not involve costs. The Minister would review the ERT’s ruling and has the power, she said, to revoke the Sumac Ridge approval “in the public interest.”
Coun. Stauble said the timing is good, because a review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan is currently underway, and a copy of the ERT’s ruling will also be sent to that panel.
She said Ministry of Environment (MOE) has ruled that under no circumstances should there be any risk of harm to the Moraine. Building the two turbines on the Moraine, along with a parking lot where hazardous materials would be stored poses that risk.
The Tribunal also acknowledged “a conflict between the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Green Energy Act”, Coun. Stauble said, and found that wpd Canada did not meet the required setbacks for the turbines, nor was an important hydrogeological study completed, which would take a close look at the possible impact on the aquifiers, the primary water source on the Moraine.
Coun. Stauble said those two points, which the Tribunal found, are strong elements of the appeal.
The City of Kawartha Lakes has also continued to resist Sumac Ridge, “on several grounds including the refusal to open Wild Turkey Road as it is an un assumed road.”
Sumac Ridge is not the only wind energy project proposed for the areal. Capstone Infrastructure Corporation’s Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing have not yet been approved, but Coun. Stauble and Manvers Wind Concerns fully expect that to happen in the very near future.
If it does, the appellants will appeal to the ERT for both and donations are needed to help with the costs.
“The Sumac Ridge appeal was enormously expensive due to the massive effort to stop it and we must re-engage financially.”
Contributions can be mailed to to Manvers Wind Concerns, 1450 Highway 7A, PO Box 14, Bethany, Ontario, LOA 1A0.